Fellowship Is A Tender Thread

Fellowship Is A Tender Thread

There is an all-too-common phenomenon in the Christian life – the phenomenon known as backsliding. A backslider is a true believer who is out of fellowship with God because of unconfessed sin in his life.

What do we mean by being out of fellowship with God? Well, it’s this way: God is holy and sinless. There is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5). In order to walk in fellowship with God, a man must confess and forsake his sins as soon as he is aware of them. After all, fellowship means sharing in common. How can two people get along as partners unless they are agreed? How can a man be in fellowship with God if the man condones sin in his life while God condemns it (1 John 1:6, 7)?

Fellowship in a human family means that the members are living happily together. But suppose that the husband and wife have a bitter quarrel! The fellowship is broken. A dark cloud of resentment and tension settles down. The happy family spirit remains broken until the husband and wife confess and make up.

So it is in the family of God. Sin breaks fellowship, the tender thread of fellowship snaps, and that thread remains broken until the sin is confessed and put away.

But while sin breaks fellowship, it does not break relationship. At the time of conversion, a person becomes a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12). This relationship is brought about by spiritual birth. Nothing can break it. Once a birth has taken place, the relationship cannot be changed. It is indissoluble.

That is why the believer’s relationship has been likened to an unbreakable chain, whereas his fellowship is more like a single strand of a spider’s web. When a Christian sins, he is still a child of God, but the happy family spirit is gone. He does not lose his salvation, but he does lose the joy of his salvation.

It can happen to any believer. In most cases, it begins with neglect of the Word of God and of prayer. The pressures of life eat away at the daily quiet time. As we get away from the influence of the Bible; we no longer take such a serious view of sin. We develop sort of a liberal, indulgent attitude. Temptations no longer seem repulsive; in fact, the anticipation of sin becomes attractive. We rather enjoy thinking about it-not that we would ever do it, of course. But we think about it so much that it becomes rather familiar to us. Then we dabble, we trifle, we sample – and finally we plunge (James 1:14, 15).

Most believers backslide at one time or another in their lives. The Bible tells us about some outstanding saints who allowed sin to break communion with God – Lot, Samson, Naomi, David, Jonah, Peter, and Demas, for instance. The Christian who thinks it couldn’t happen to him is in greatest danger of a tumble (1 Cor. 10:12).

As soon as the thread of fellowship is broken, the Holy Spirit goes to work to bring about our restoration. He seeks to convict us of sin and bring us to the place of repentance and confession. Because of our pride and hardness, this may take weeks, months, or even years.

All sin must be confessed to God, But if others have been affected by our sin it must be confessed to them as well (Matt. 5:23, 24). Restitution must be made in all cases where our sin has caused tangible loss to others.

As soon as there has been genuine confession Godward and manward, and restitution has been made, then fellowship with God is restored, and the Holy Spirit can resume the ministry He loves: occupying the believer with the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1614).

Does this mean, then, that a Christian can sin and get away with it? The answer is obviously NO. But in considering the question, it is helpful to make a distinction between the PENALTY of sin and the CONSEQUENCES of sin.

It is clear from the Bible that the backslider will never have to pay the eternal penalty of his sin. That penalty was paid by the Saviour when He hung on the Cross. Those who believe on Him will not come into judgement, but have already passed from death to life (John 5:24). In other words, when a true believer sins, he is not thereby doomed to hell. Christ made complete satisfaction for sin’s penalty by shedding His blood at Calvary. God will not demand payment twice, first from Christ and then from us.

When a child of God sins, the devil accuses him before the Throne of God in Heaven. Then the Lord Jesus steps forward as Advocate, points to the wounds in His hands, feet, and side, and says, in effect, “I paid for that sin at Calvary. Charge it to My account” (1 John 2:1).

So the backslider will not have to pay the eternal consequences of his sin in hell. But let us quickly add that he might have to suffer the consequences of his sin in his life and in Heaven as well. Some of the consequences of sin in this life could be:

  1. Dishonour brought on the Name of the Lord.
  2. Ruined testimony.
  3. Misery and unhappiness brought on others.
  4. Enormous waste of time and money.
  5. Physical and emotional disturbances.
  6. Deep shame and remorse.
  7. Personal misery and wretchedness.
  8. Wasted opportunities for serving Christ.
  9. Others stumbled by the example of the backslider.

The consequences of sin in heaven include:

  1. Loss of reward at the Judgement Seat of Christ (1Cor. 3:15)
  2. A reduced capacity for enjoying the Lord and enjoying the glories of heaven.

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And the Lord has wonderful ways of overruling our sin and failure for His own glory and for our own good.

We have seen then that the cause of all backsliding is sin. It is this that breaks communion with God. And fellowship remains broken until sin is confessed and forsaken.

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